When Steve Espinoza and his son John started building their golf course 13 years ago, the idea likely seemed like something out of Field of Dreams to bystanders.
John’s Course, all 11 holes of it, sits on the Espinoza’s 10-acre property just outside Eureka. The father and son, who built the course largely on their own, are both disabled. John suffers from Cornelia de Lang syndrome, a disease similar to Down syndrome. Steve has difficulty walking after having been severely wounded by a rocket explosion while serving as an infantryman in Vietnam, and spends about half his day in a wheelchair.
They built the course, which is free, so that they and other disabled golfers would have a place to golf where they didn’t feel rushed.
Over the years, when he’s woken up tired and sore from his work with John maintaining the course, Espinoza says he’s asked himself, “Why am I doing this?” and considered giving it up.
It appears the Espinozas held out just long enough.
If John and Steve’s work didn’t resemble Kevin Costner’s baseball diamond before, it certainly does now that The Wilderness Club and Nick Faldo, ex-pro golfer and three-time winner of the Masters Tournament, have come to the rescue.
The Wilderness Club is a new high-end golf course community being built just a few miles from John’s Course. Developers of the new course heard the story behind John’s Course and decided The Wilderness Club would share some of its resources with the Espinozas.
Faldo happens to be one of those resources. He’s designing the golf course at The Wilderness Club, which is also paying him to design a par three hole on John’s Course.
The Wilderness Club also plans to help out with maintenance of the course, which John mostly takes care of now.
Faldo plans to visit John’s Course for the first time this week, to have a look at the hole he’ll be designing, and to meet Steve and John.
Steve says what’s happened is a “dream come true,” while John says simply, “I feel happy.”